Have you ever seen a really cool reptile hide on Instagram or Facebook and wondered, “where did they get that?” Chances are, it’s a DIY reptile hide!

In this blog, let’s talk about reptile hides, and how you can make your own awesome reptile shelter!

Why Do You Need a Reptile Hide?

Providing a hide, or the ability to create a hide, is pivotal for any reptile. Most species need multiple hides. Some even need a more humid hide to help with the shedding process– gecko hides are a good example!

Beyond shedding, it is crucial for the animal to feel safe and secure in their environment. Hides provide a dark and protected space that does just that. 

Hides can do more than one thing! A hide with a relatively flat top can make for a great basking or lounging spot. If it has a rougher texture then it might be a great surface to rub against and help with shedding. Or maybe it’s a nice, tall structure that your lizard can climb.

Really, hides do a lot.

What Are the Benefits of DIY Reptile Hides?

There is nothing wrong with purchasing a hide from the store. At this point, there are hundreds of them out there to suit many different needs. 

But there’s also nothing wrong with building your own hide. In fact, there are a lot of reasons to do just this!


Reptile hides can be expensive, especially if you have multiple enclosures to set up. On average you’re looking at about $20-$30 USD per hide VS using materials you can find in your own home.


Most hides are designed to look relatively realistic, but that might not be what you want. Or maybe you want to make your hide come with multiple features. 

If you want to recreate Hagrid’s hut as a bearded dragon hide, then why not? Or Castle Greyskull, the Millennium Falcon, the USS Enterprise… 

Creative Outlet

No matter what type of DIY reptile hide you make, it’s pretty much an arts and crafts project. This can be a great project for yourself as well for kids. And you’ll be able to use the end product!


Sustainability can vary depending on what you make your hide out of. There are plenty of eco-friendly materials to choose from!


Having your child make their own reptile shelter can be a great way to make them feel closer to their pet. Your reptile may not understand, but the builder of the lizard hide will. They’ll feel more involved and may even gain a better understanding of the care their reptile needs.

DIY Reptile Hide Ideas

Now that I’ve talked about why DIY reptile hides are a good idea, let me show you where to get started in making your own customized reptile cave. 

Clay Hides

I’m at least 90% sure clay is magic. Crayola’s air-dry clay is literally called Model Magic. You take the clay, mold it, then let it dry. That’s all you need to do and it will be good enough. But that’s not all you can do!

You can paint the hide, add texture, and more. Here’s a great in-depth guide to making a clay reptile hide. They even show you how to make your own clay!

Expanding Foam

Is clay great? Yes. But there are more materials than just clay. Take expanding foam for example. A little goes a long way and you can typically get several caves out of a single container. With clay and other materials what you see is what you get.

Spray some foam, wait for it to expand and harden, then you’re free to carve and customize. Alphe does a much better job of going over how to make DIY reptile hides from expanding foam

Popsicle Sticks

You can either save used popsicle sticks after dessert or buy a bunch online. Either way works as long as the sticks are clean and disinfected. Once you have enough to work with you can start building!

Popsicle sticks are easy to cut and modify, you can even use food coloring to dye them fun colors. You could even make a little cabin that looks like it came right from a Bob Ross painting!


Is this the most affordable option? Maybe not, but it’s arguably the most fun. All you have to do is take some legos and build a structure big enough for your reptile to take a ‘lil nap in. 

Please show us if you end up making the Millennium Falcon into a reptile-friendly hide! This would be nothing short of amazing.

A Note On Reptile Safety:

No matter what type of hide you’re building, make sure that it will not harm or otherwise be a threat to your reptile. DIY reptile hides should either be solid with no risk of parts falling off or be made of non-toxic materials if there is the risk of parts breaking/being ingested. 

Another thing to avoid is sharp edges, but those are easily fixed with some sandpaper.

Additionally, avoid using substances that are known to be toxic to simply be around. Here is a quick and non-exclusive list of some common materials to avoid: 

  • water-soluble glue
  • Pine
  • Cedar
  • Zinc
  • Lead 

Of course, there are many more items that are toxic than just these, but specifics will vary by species, and just double-check everything you’re using!

Can’t Stop At Just One Hide?

I hear you loud and clear! Making DIY reptile hides is kind of addicting. Why stop at one hide when you have an entire enclosure to work with? 

Bioactive enclosures are a great answer to this question. Read more about them here and see if going bioactive is right for you!